Tag: Cattle shade

A Shade Haven and a 12th Century Abbey

Our European distributorMan@Machine shares a customer’s insight on grazing with a SH1200 Shade Haven mobile shade system at an organic farm near Leuven, Belgium.

Article written by Rosa de Nooijer

In the outskirts of Leuven, Belgium, stands an Abbey that was built in 1129. Today, in 2023, the land surrounding the ‘Abdij van Park’ is used by a cooperative of farmers. The meadows are grazed by their cattle, and the fertile soil is used to grow potatoes, cereals, vegetables, and fruit. Passing by on a summer day, you might spot the cows ruminating in the shade provided by the Shade Haven that farmer Ine Craenhals got for them. We asked Ine some questions about the role of the Shade Haven on the farm.

Q: Can you tell us about yourself and your farm?
Ine: “We are BoerEnCompagnie, a mixed, organic farm near Leuven. The farming cooperative is made up of different partners, such as the farmers, active participants, and a board. We run the farm as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where those with an annual subscription can come and harvest the vegetables and fruit that we grow. Additionally, there are different subscriptions to packages that include dairy, meat, cereals (and flour), potatoes and bread.

I joined BoerEnCompagnie as a partner in 2018. That is also when we started milking the herd as well as processing the milk. We have a herd of 15 dairy cows. The calves spend a minimum of three months with their mothers. We process all the milk into various products that are combined into packages that customers can subscribe to. We also sell all the meat ourselves.”

Q: Why did you start looking for a shade structure for your animals?
Ine: I saw that our cows were having a hard time on hot days. Our farm is located on the grounds of the old Abbey. The surrounding landscape is protected, so planting trees is not possible everywhere. We decided to plant as many as we were allowed to because they play an important role when it comes to supplying minerals. Even though we would have loved to plant more trees, we also knew that they would take a long time to grow large enough to protect the herd. That is when we started looking for a mobile shade structure. Now, I am convinced that a mobile shade spot has many advantages over a tree because you can influence where in the meadow the animals spend their time. Otherwise, in warm weather they would always under ‘that one tree’, which means that too much fertilizer falls in one place. This results in the grass no longer growing and so on. We also work with rotational grazing and without a Shade Haven we always had to give them access to the same part of the pasture on hot days. But… those warm days turned into warm periods, so we ran into problems with food. We also worked with a temporary fence in a shady spot, but we were not allowed to turn it into a permanent pasture. And that temporary fence requires a lot of work. Not just that, but with this shady spot the same rule applies: the manure always falls in the same place.

Q: What are the benefits of the Shade Haven?
Ine: “The fact that you can spread the manure and always allow the shade to go with the herd. The Shade Haven is incredibly user-friendly! It is so easy to fold and unfold. I even enjoy it. The structure is very robust: nothing has broken yet, even when the wind blows a little harder. Of course, it is important to keep an eye on the wind, but it can handle quite windy days. The good thing is that, when I do close it, the cows no longer need it because the wind cools down enough.”

Q: Are there also negatives? If so, have you found solutions for that?
Ine: “You need a tractor or something similar to move the Shade Haven. We don’t always have one right next to the meadow. I have not found a permanent solution for it yet. Though I have been thinking that maybe I would want to train a cow to pull it. I think that for us it is a matter of better organizing the grazing system so we can keep up with the work we are already doing anyways. But I try to keep in mind that we have only been milking for 6 years, so we are still learning a lot.”

Q: Have you seen a difference in the behavior of the herd since you have the Shade Haven?
Ine: “They love the Shade Haven. They walk there -even when they have fresh grass- to rub themselves on the brushes and of course to cool down (not just in the shade, but also in the breeze due to the lower temperature). They really get through the hot days better than before.”

Q: Why would you recommend others to also purchase a Shade Haven?
Ine: “It’s so easy to use, there is no maintenance, and it is well made. You will have no more worries. The animals feel much better and they continue to give good milk on hot days.”

Q: How do other farmers and people who visit the farm react to the shade haven?
Ine: “The reactions are always very positive, and people are curious about it. The price of the Shade Haven scares some people away. Even though I understand that, you have to look at it as an investment, just like a like a tractor or a good milking machine. We were fortunate that we could count on support from the Abbey. Otherwise we would never have been able to buy this because we were only just beginning. Now that we have one, I wouldn’t want to miss it ever again. Talking about money, it is important to mention that planting and replanting trees to protect livestock also costs a lot of money, which is often forgotten. Finally, I think farmers can also look at subsidies to make such investments (in Flanders, for example, the VLIF).”

Q: What is your future dream for keeping animals on farms/for the animals on your farm?
Ine: “I would like to focus more on the grazing on our farm and get better at it. There’s nothing more fun than being among the cows in the meadow and setting up the fences for the next few days. This way I hope to be able to get more milk from grazing. As long as the cows are grazing happily, I am happy as well.

We want to thank Ine for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions.

Man@Machine is a European importer of the Shade Haven. European farmers interested in adding mobile shade should contact info@manatmachine.com or by calling +31644428391

Regenerative Agriculture is Trending

By Vince Hundt

Being a seventy-year-old Wisconsin farmer, trending is not a word that I use very often. For most of my life, a “trend” was a noun, generally about hairstyles and the length of skirts, but it has recently become a verb. That’s life: the language changes, people change, the climate changes, agricultural practices change. We wake up one morning and the world is a different place.

Bad trending

When I was born in 1951, there were 168,000 dairy farms in Wisconsin, and they were essentially all “organic” and almost all of them depended on grazing for a good part of their forage. Wisconsin was covered by a lot of small farms with grass and hay and clean water. Today Wisconsin has 6,500 dairy farms, only a few hundred of them are organic and those few are pretty much the only ones that do any grazing at all. Not by coincidence, during that same time period Wisconsin saw its lakes, rivers, and groundwater go from friendly, clean, clear, and drinkable to darkly poisoned with nitrates, phosphorus, and a godawful assortment of herbicides, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals.

Good trending

Regenerative agriculture is about cover crops, rotations, and diversity, but first and foremost it is about bringing back animals, grass, and grazing. The only agricultural practice that solves all the problems of polluted water runoff, groundwater contamination, soil erosion and depletion (while at the same time sequestering new carbon in the soil) is rotational grazing. Rotational grazing, with the simple mantra of move the water, move the fence, move the shade, is regenerating the health of our soils, water, animals, rural communities, and the health of our citizens. A recent Wall Street Journal article (excerpt below) indicates this idea is really sinking in deep. Personally, I am rotationally grazing and trending hopeful on the future.

Wall Street Journal. April 1, 2022

“This is not a boutique trend. In 2019, General Mills announced a commitment to advancing  regenerative practices on 1 million acres of farmland by 2030; PepsiCo followed suit in 2021 with a pledge to do the same across its entire 7-million-acre agricultural footprint. Nestle SA said recently that it would invest $1.3 billion over the next five years to help farmers transition to regenerative practices.”

How and Why Smart Farmers Are Creating Mobile Shade for Their Livestock


by  WILL WINTER, DVM (As appeared in Stockman Grass Farmer, 2020)

There’s a somewhat popular phrase that has been going around in our livestock producers circles for quite a few years and I feel compelled to state right up from that the saying kind of irks me.  The saying is  “We don’t pamper our cows”. Pamper? Wait a minute? Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing? (Poet ROBERT BLY has stated that “wait a minute” are the three most powerful words in the English language.).

Well, looking at it another way, I do understand part of the logic behind the phrase, there is an extreme which is usually good to avoid,  but still that doesn’t justify the use of the “no pampering” concept to deprive any farm animals of their basic needs and comfort. More about animal comfort later.


But back to pampering, I believe that not only is it the right thing to do, it is actually very closely connected to the creation of a financially profitable herd. That’s the main difference between providing for essential needs, the basics of life, as compared to artificial living through drugs. Sure, an animal or even a human, can exist without comfort throughout their life, but why? Why live that way when a blessed life is equally possible? Why even consider it when, even at the most basic level, animals living in comfort will make us more money?  What I’m going to show you is that animals that have all the comforts are not really “pampered poodles”, but they will do better, and in turn, they will help you do better.

As a funny side note to this, I grew up in a Kansas farm family and I have some love/hate memories of plowing wheat fields in July and August following harvest. In addition to baking my brains out, I was able to accrue enough skin damage from the sun to last me a lifetime at the dermatologist. Shortly after I moved to Minnesota, I clearly remember seeing my first tractor with an old-fashioned beach umbrella mounted over the tractor seat!  Brilliant!! I was stunned that no Kansan I ever saw had figured it out. Now, of course, it looks odd to see someone on a tractor without a cab to protect the farmer from the elements. My how we evolve!

This whole issue of properly and profitably raising cattle in hot summer weather really came to light for me when I visited the Wisconsin farm of VINCE HUNDT.  Vince is the person who lead the team that developed and created the Shade Haven Portable Shade Mobiles and he really helped me understand the solution to an oft-ignored problem. Vince saw a need and was able to rely on his manufacturing and farming  background to create a tool for solving the ubiquitous problem that may occur at certain times of the year wherein animals are too hot to graze.  All shade has value, but we have all seen the pasture damage created when the only shade comes when the livestock can bunch up under trees. The concentrated manure can also become a fly breeding ground making those matters worse. (heavy fly pressure also makes cattle want to congregate tightly in the shade where they are obviously not grazing, not making profit. This is yet another reason to do everything within your power to lower the fly population! See our previous messages about the Top Ten Ways to get rid of flies).

JOEL SALATIN, editor of the Stockman Grassfarmer magazine, long-time grazer and creator of his own home-made shade mobiles stated in the magazine that he “looks forward to the day when shade mobiles will dot every livestock farm in the nation”. I think he’s exactly right. Joel was even clever enough to assemble his own shade mobiles utilizing nothing more expensive than used farm junk, for a materials cost of near zero. Not pretty, but the cattle have never once complained!


Obviously the easiest would be to buy a pre-made and well-designed commercial unit.  A Shade Haven for example. (see shadehavens.com for full pricing and more details). They are a work of art,  and perhaps the ultimate in function. These 30-40’ circles fold up into a narrow strip like an Asian fan so they can roll down the highway or be trailed behind an ATV. They are easy to quickly deploy. It’s almost impossible to fault them in any way. They are built to withstand wind gusts up to 50 mph, and many other weather extremes. Accessories include mineral hoppers, oilers for insect repellent, even back scratchers.

RON and JUDI LOCKE,  ranchers in SW Missouri are a classic example of happy Shade Haven customers. After early retirement they have been raising cattle for the past 20 years. It has dawned on them improving their soil microbial health is their number one ranch goal.  However, 15 of the Locke’s 27 paddocks have no shade. Two of those the without shade are warm season grasses, most productive from July through early September when temperaturess in Missouri soar above 90 degrees.

“So here I have these wonderful warm season paddocks and no shade,” says Ron Locke.” I couldn’t put my fall cows in those fields, because it was too hot and they didn’t have shade. Now I can put my cattle anywhere I want. It has completely changed my ability to graze my fields the way I want to graze them.

The Locke’s raise black Angus, which, frankly, are cattle that were designed to live and perform in the lovely , cloudy and cool highlands of Scotland. Sure, the Locke’s could have switched to red cattle or the heat-tolerant-designed and highly recommended Misouri-bred Southpoll breed, but it would still not have the desired effect they hope to achieve with overall pasture utilization and protection of the soil microbia.

There are hundreds of similar success stories from other Shade Haven customers. There are few if any unhappy customers and the number one reaction after their first experience is to come back for several more units.

The most beautiful and perhaps most efficient home-built were designed and created by TED STEVENS for his Texas cattle. Born of sculptured aluminum pipe, his devices roll easily on used aircraft wheels and tires, these machines look as if they could fly. They don’t, but his include mineral hoppers, oilers and even a portable water tank along with mister spray nozzles all around to make grazing near them a happy place.

Minnesotan rancher DUANE MUNSTERTIGER and son TONY have also constructed rugged and muscularly handsome shade units using nothing more exotic than iron pipe and I-beams. (see pictures of both below). They also include mineral hoppers and oilers for flies, one even has a back scratcher.


  1. BETTER ANIMAL FERTILITY, HEALTHY AND WEIGHT GAINS–     And now we are talking about how to make a shade mobile pay for itself. And, yes, it’s true, they will. After one gets over the original sticker shock of the price, the best part is yet to come.  Actually, the main reason we would want to provide portable shade is quite often completely overlooked. We now see the purchase not as an expense or a cost but as an investment.  Take it directly from DR ALAN WILLIAMS, who lives and does ranching research in hot and humid Mississippi. He has documented that cattle, no matter where they live, will consume 50 to 70% less dry matter when they are suffering from heat stress. So, not only are they not gaining, they are actually losing condition. Putting condition back on that has been lost is a massively expensive proposition. Vince Hundt speculates that just this savings alone will pay for a commercial shade mobile in just a few years.

Studies show that cattle start feeling heat stress at any temperature above 72 degrees F. In fact, the copious heat that arises from the 50 gallon fermentation tank called the rumen means that cattle handle cold weather better than hot weather, actually finding peak function and comfort at around 42 degrees F. Scientific studies show that cattle with access to shade gained 0.47#/day more than identical cattle and pasture but without shade. This adds up!

2) BETTER PASTURE UTILIZATION–  It’s quite common to see pastures that are underutilized solely because the cattle don’t have what they need, which often includes lack of shade. Getting into these pastures is essential for maximum utilization of the entire paddock, farm or ranch. Dr. Williams also points out another aspect of shade in general. In this case the overall shade protection that keeps soil temperature cooler. Full-pasture shade can be created by allowing grasses to reach the mid-stage of maturity. This will  create soil that is more moist, more cool. Dr. Williams’ study shows as much as a 50-degree improvement, often seeing soil temperatures variance  from 80 to 140F when comparing a well-managed pasture vs. one that is poorly managed. This means that cattle standing on poor pastures with overheated soil is about the equivalent of us standing on a hot blacktop road in August in Texas. When that soil temperature reaches 140 degrees F, and it will, we have just destroyed soil livestock populations.  When we successfully graze  with proper rotation and rest periods, we are sequestering carbon, building more carbon. With each 1% increase in organic matter in the soil, we can store an additional 20,000 gallons of water per acre.  Additinally, when you see patches of thistles or other invasive weeds in a pasture, you know exactly where to park your shade mobile!

3) HELPING TO REVERSE THE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE– No matter what one’s beliefs about climate change are, no one can argue with the facts, figures and observations that we are getting hotter, we have more extremes, more droughts, more flooding and more storms than before. There are few, if any, technologies that do more to protect our climate than sustainable, regenerative livestock grazing. We strive daily to achieve the elimination of all bare soil, preventing overgrazed/dead areas and the creation of a full mat of plants. This creates a year-round protection umbrella over the land that we love. The primary tools that we use include portable water systems, portable fencing, adequate free-choice mineralization of the livestock, and now we can measure the value of creating portable shade.

4)  WHY SETTLE FOR LESS THAN “FEEL GOOD” FARMING?   After all these thoughts about the comfort of the animals, animal performance, soil and plant health, and even the saving of the planet itself, what about us? Even the most remote ranch or farm is also not out of reach of city people or other concerned citizens that are worried about whether or not farmers care for their animals. People that could report your herd to humane organizations.  The fact is, fear of cruelty to animals drives swarms of people to vegetarianism or, worse, the dangerous cult of veganism. When passersby see a shade mobile with happy-looking cattle under it, it’s a real traffic stopper. They smile, they take photos, they tell their friends.  One highly significant ray of light we can give to the people that eat our livestock is to show them in every way possible that we DO care and we do provide comfort, and, well, yes, pampering to our animals! Almost everyone resonates with happiness whether it’s thriving green plants and flowers, calm, grounded and centered farm animals, and, luckily for us, they want to see farmers that are healthy, concerned for all life and happiness!


All in all, I think we are approaching a cusp in thinking, call it a paradigm shift if you will. I think it’s clear to se that before long,  every single successful livestock producer will have that same “Aha’ moment!  We started with portable fencing, we got portable water, portable mineral hoppers, and now, portable shade mobiles!  I think the time is at hand when we all realize that we can never again afford to put our livestock into a shadeless paddock on a hot summer day. If that shade is portable and easy to move, the benefits multiply even more! I look forward to that day! I know that all of our livestock feel the same way!

WILL WINTER is a retired veterinarian, a holistic herd health consultant and livestock nutritionist who hangs his hat in Minnesota. He is also a traveling lecturer and teacher focusing on sustainable livestock production and traditional nutrition. He provides consultations, workshops, lectures and access to natural livestock supplies to farmers and ranchers.



Tennessee Grazing with Shade

Click photo above to view video

Retirement goals often include travel, boats or spending more time on the golf course. John Abe Teague’s retirement dream was to farm and raise cattle, and that’s what he did. In 2014 Teague started with 13 bred Angus cows at his farm in Jonesborough, Tennessee, but with limited trees he was challenged to supply the shade his cattle needed. Then in 2015 he purchased a Shade Haven mobile shade system.

“It has allowed me to do what I do—have cattle and do rotational grazing,” says Teague. “I could not farm without the Shade Haven. It’s that simple.”

For rotational grazing, Teague knew he needed grass, water, fencing and shade. After failed attempts to construct his own shade solution, he found what he needed at Powell Farms, which utilizes nine Shade Havens in its grazing plan. “I was sold the minute I saw it,” says Teague. “I picked the phone up and ordered one.”

Teague moves his cattle and the Shade Haven daily across 15 acres established in five-acre paddocks, which he divides into 8 to 10 smaller paddocks with electric fence on reels. When the cattle at Mire Creek Farm see the Shade Haven, they know it means fresh green grass and a cool place to lie down. “I cluck at them and move the Shade Haven and they follow me,” says Teague. “I tell people, they would follow me all the way to town if I wanted them to. They love the Shade Haven.”

An advocate for rotational grazing, Teague welcomes groups to his farm who want to learn about it. He knows the benefits of managed grazing and mobile shade for animal health, production and profitability. “The bottom line is they get shade when they need it. It gets 95 degrees here in summertime and black-hided cows can’t stand it. They’ve got to have shade,” says Teague, who also appreciates the ability to control where nutrients are going in his pasture. “I find weak spots in the field and place the Shade Haven there, so it gets manure and then I move it. That helps on the fertilizer bill, and it helps on the quality of grass.”

Since a health condition requires him to eat a lot of protein, Teague consumes a portion of his shade-raised, grassfed beef and sells the rest. He’s still fine-tuning his grazing operation and his pastures. “I’ve managed to get one cow for every one acre with rotational grazing,” he adds.

Building his registered Angus cow/calf herd, improving his pastures, and moving the cattle are all part of typical day for Teague, and he wouldn’t want it any other way. “I’m 69. I’ve had a good life. This is my retirement, and the Shade Haven makes it possible.”

Shade Haven is proud to be part of John Abe Teague’s grazing operation. Thanks to John Abe for representing Shade Haven at grazing and beef cattle events around northeast Tennessee.

Mobile Shade at Work on Ohio Ranch

Lori and Steve Roseberry are in the business of raising reined cow horses and enjoy showing cutting horses. This year they purchased a Shade Haven mobile shade system to reduce heat stress and improve weight gain for the stocker cattle they run on their farm, Little Roc Ranch, in Circleville, Ohio.

The Roseberry’s cross-bred Angus stockers provide additional revenue and play a role in training the horses. The couple currently has 12 horses on their ranch and nine others– including foals and embryo mares – in Texas.

“We have a total of 48 acres here where we live. We run between 20 and 25 head of cattle here and another 76 or so on another place,” explains Steve Roseberry. “The reason we got the Shade Haven was because none of the pastures here have trees.”

A long-time rotational grazier, Roseberry moves the cattle through six paddocks. “In early spring, when I first bring on the stockers, I move them every day or every couple of days and then as we get further into the summer, I slow that down,” he explains.

Observing some heat stress in his cattle, Roseberry considered adding permanent shade shelters. “But I didn’t want to put permanent structures in every pasture, so that is why we opted to get the Shade Haven.”

Roseberry uses a tractor to move the Shade Haven with the cattle. “I have 16-foot gates in most of the pastures, so I don’t even have to fold it up to move it. If I do have to, the design of the Shade Haven is very efficient as far as being able to fold it and open it back up.”

After just one grazing season with the Shade Haven, Roseberry says he’s already noticed a difference in terms of weight gain. And he’s done the math on the benefits of mobile shade in his pasture. “It has certainly reduced the heat stress on the stock,” he says, “It will probably pay for itself in three or four years.”